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Internet Sweepstakes Cafés: Maybe in Ohio, Not in Virginia

It’s a tale of two states as a pair of incidents seek to test the vague boundaries of current American gambling laws

Internet sweepstakes cafes - CasinoZion

It’s a tale of two states as a pair of incidents seek to test the vague boundaries of current American gambling laws

In Ohio, a resident of Struthers (pop. 12,036 in 2000 U.S. Census) seeks to open an internet café that would also feature sweepstakes gambling. In the system offered by Pam Dibble’s proposed business, the internet café would offer computer time for people to play sweepstakes games in which a limited, predetermined number of prizes would be available.

Luckily for Struthers, she has something of a powerful local ally: Struthers mayor Terry Stocker has taken Dibble’s appeal to the state attorney general to get the law’s advice on whether the café can be opened under the sweepstakes-offer premise.

Meanwhile, Virginia police raided 11 internet gaming cafes in the Virginia Beach area and confiscated over 400 computers from the businesses. State attorneys had stated they’d been investigating whether illegal gambling was going on in the cafes since March, and subsequently undercover police officers have visited the cafes as well.

Virginia attorney general Ken Cuccinelli this year released an advisory opinion on the subject allowing internet gaming cafes in principle, but adding that local authorities may decide laws for their own jurisidiction.

The owners of the 11 businesses could now face charges of felony operation of illegal gambling facilities, should the state decide to bring charges. No customers are expected to be charged in any legal action.

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